Christian Stewardship Advice: 7 Tips for Handling Money

by David Peach on October 16, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

To be a good steward you have to recognize your relationship to things that you have. When you think of the possessions you have as your own and that no one will dictate to you how to handle them or use them, then you are not being a good steward. The proper relationship to things is to understand that everything belongs to God and that you have been given them to manage on God’s behalf.

Here are seven tips for Christians who want to have a better understanding of stewardship and how to handle money.

Tithe to the Lord

There are differing thoughts about how the tithe should be given or used today (since Christ’s death); however, it is clear that we are to have an attitude that what we own comes from the Lord and to give a portion back to Him is a recognition of that fact. Whether you ascribe to storehouse tithing and a strict 10%, or you give according to the way God has blessed you, we should give cheerfully and thankfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). Everything we have is because the Lord has blessed us with it. Out of obedience and love we ought to be willing to give back to Him with confidence that He will take care of our needs.

Don’t Get Into Debt

Proverbs 22:7 “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”

The Bible does not forbid debt. However, it teaches very strongly that it is unwise to get into debt. Living within our means is spending what we make and can afford. It seems completely unchristian and unethical to spend money that we don’t own. However, we are guilty of doing it all the time. When we put something on credit, or borrow money to buy something, then we are not living within your means.

Unfortunately, it seems normal in today’s culture to live for today while presuming upon the future. Certainly it is not wrong to plan for the future. But James 4:13-16 tells us that we should plan based on God’s will with the understanding that our life is short and that we cannot control what will come tomorrow. Living constantly in debt is a presumption upon money we are not guaranteed to have.

Get Out of Debt as Quickly as Possible

Psalm 37:21 “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.”

Proverbs 22:7 says that he who borrows from another becomes the servant to the lender. How can you hope to serve God and do whatever He asks of you if you are beholden to a bank for the next 6 years (or indefinitely)? You are not free to serve God as He wishes if you have an obligation to another master; yet not paying this other master would be wrong. If you are in debt then you should work as quickly as you can to get out of debt by paying it off.

Manage God’s Possessions

Colossians 1:16, 17 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

God owns everything; you and I are simply stewards of what God has granted into our possession. As stewards, we should be faithful to God (1 Corinthians 4:2) and manage what He has entrusted to us. The parable of the master who left various possessions to his servants (the Parable of the Talents) is a great illustration of our relationship to the Lord and the things He entrusts to us (Matthew 25:14-30). In the story the master rewarded the servants who used his money wisely. The one who did not was punished. How are you using what God has entrusted to you?

Accept Your Current Position

1 Timothy 6:7-8 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

A sign of Christian maturity is to be content with the things you have. Always wanting more displays a lack of trust in the Lord. That does not mean that it is wrong to work harder to better your position and condition in life, but it should not be what drives you. Your drive and passion should be squarely placed in the knowledge that God is in control and that He will care for your needs.

Seek His Kingdom

Matthew 6:31-34 “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Make God and His will first priority in your life and He will supply the needs you have. These verses do not promise great wealth, but they do promise a Father who is personally concerned for your needs. Wouldn’t you rather have a God who cares for you than to have all the money in the world without an understanding of who controls it all? God is more than able to do much more than you can ever dream. Be blessed by the video and song in the upper right of this page.

Never Buy Unless…

Here is a five-step guide to help you know when a purchase is an appropriate one. There is nothing sacred about this list, but it is a good thing to think through each time you go to buy something—especially when buying higher priced items.

Don’t buy unless…

  1. You need the item. If it is not a need, then why buy? 

  2. You can afford the item. That means that you don’t go into debt to buy it. 

  3. You have planned to buy it. No impulse spending. 

  4. The price is at, or less than the price you had planned to pay. 

  5. You were not manipulated to buy the item. Don’t let someone convince you that you need something without taking time to consider it yourself.

Involve Your Spouse

It is so difficult to control money and spending if you are not both in agreement to how money should be used in your family and marriage. As is often the case, opposites attract. Many times there is a saver and a spender in a marriage. This can cause great strain on a relationship unless you go to God in prayer asking for wisdom on how to proceed with your finances as a Christian couple. Allow God to guide you. This may mean that you need to seek godly counsel from your pastor or other mature couple in your church.

What’s Yours? What’s God’s?

I hope you see that everything you have comes from and belongs to God. You and I are simply stewards of what He has entrusted to our care. That may be money or items. Whatever it is, submit it to the Lord and ask for His wisdom in handling these things.

Sources

The Holy Bible, King James Version

YouTube video “He is Able” by Maranatha Singers



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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Faffy October 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

Hi David,

Thanks for a great article. My husband and i have been having discussions about debt and we agree its not the way to live and your article puts a lot of the issues in perspective.

I’d appreciate your opinion where debt is for purchase of a home. (We both work 8-5 jobs and paying our bond instead of rent seems a reasonable thing to do)

Be blessed!

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nitzaly October 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm

thats illegal

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David Peach October 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

Faffy, Thank you for your comment. I am glad this helped.

The way I (as well as many Christian financial planners) see going into debt for a home is that it is an appropriate thing to do. The reason is that a house appreciates in value. Or, at least, typically does not lose value faster than the time to pay it off. In other words, if you buy a house for $10,000 (don’t we all wish we could?), and God calls you to be a missionary 3 years down the road. You can turn around and sell your house and probably get your $10,000 back plus some equity. You have not really lost money.

However, if you have credit card debt of $10,000 and you lost your job, the situation is completely different. Now you have no way of paying back that $10,000. And next month the bill is $10,200. Interest builds up against you and the value of the items you purchased is either non-existent or depreciating. At that point you will still be paying on a credit card for items you probably no longer have. You can’t honor God with your money. You also could not cut yourself free to serve God full time if He asked you to do so.

Does that help?

As a missionary living on the generous donations by God’s people, it is not right for me to expect church people to pay off foolish debt to credit cards and banks when they think they are giving me money to do the Lord’s work.

We should consider everything we have as a gift from God. Would it be right to presume upon God to pay our $500 / month credit card bill when He was not the one who put us in that situation to begin with?

Thanks for your comments and question.

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jennifer October 16, 2012 at 7:43 am

I’m really very blessed by your articles . It’s encouraging to know that there are people out there that dedicated their life to the Lord. .. God bless u always and the ministry..

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Josh October 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

Thanks for this article, David. Great advice and needed advice for so many of us.

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Pamela Rose Williams October 16, 2012 at 9:16 am

Hi David, very good article and much needed. I love your “Don’t buy unless” tips. I espescially like #3. We have a similar rule for all purchasesover $100 to avoid impulse spending. We wait 3 days and pray about it and then at the end of 3 days we purchase it if we have peace. This has really saved us through the years. Well done brother.

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David Peach October 24, 2012 at 9:29 am

Thanks Pam.

One other thing my wife and I do is when we go to buy a big item (especially if it is from an individual) is that we don’t take money with us. We go and look at the item, talk it over and then tell the seller we have to go to the bank/ATM to get the cash. This gives us a chance to drive away and think about and discuss the item without the pressure.

Of course, if we decide to not buy the item, then we either go back to the seller or call them. Unless there is no question about us wanting to purchase the item, we never tell the seller it is a done deal until we get back with the money. That gives God a chance to send someone else to buy the item out from under us saving us from a poor decision.

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Justin October 16, 2012 at 9:32 am

I am deep in debt via school loans, bills, and money owed to friends. I recognIze that my difficult financial situation is a result of me not being a good steward when I had a well paying job and money to spare. I know that to get out of this rut I need to trust God completely with my needs, yet I find it insanely difficult to do so. A lifetime of poverty in a consumerist society has caused me to spend unwisely and covet the things I can’t afford. Additionally, I’ve noticed that those of my race, (African-American) pressure us more to buy brand name clothes to keep up with trends, even with a closet full of clothes. I am desperately trying to trust God, I just can’t seem to do it.

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David Peach October 24, 2012 at 9:36 am

Justin, I trust God will help you through this. I understand the pressure to buy the latest and greatest things. I fell prey to that often in the past. However, I really feel God has given me victory over that. It is not something easy to do and maybe God has given me some experiences that have helped me greatly. Having a good wife who knows how to plan has been a huge help. I am an impulsive buyer. My wife is deliberate and methodical with money. I thank God for her.

Even if you don’t have a supportive person in your life, there is something that I think we can all learn from. Spend time seeing how other people less fortunate than you live. I’m not talking about people who have no money but are in debt up to their eye-balls. I mean people from other countries who don’t have any of the opportunities you and I share. Watching documentaries of children from developing nations playing and having fun when you know they own nothing more than the clothes they are wearing. That will give you some perspective on your own situation.

Besides, I have gotten some really nice designer clothes from Goodwill and other thrift stores. I have one friend who outfits her teenage daughters in the latest fashions but rarely buys new clothes. She spends time in thrift stores buying better clothes for $2 than her daughters’ friends can afford to buy in the store.

God bless you as He helps you through this Justin. Pay off what you can as soon as you can. There is great freedom to knowing that you are not in debt to others.

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Mabel October 16, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Thank you Lord, I needed this advice sssssssoooooooo much in this day! God Bless you, my brother! :)

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Anastasia October 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Great article and advice. Thank you again.

Blessings for you and family! :)

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Dereck October 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Hi David,

Great article!! I want to tell you that I survive on a disability right now. I have been doing this since 2005. I am making no where close to the money I was making when I was working.

I must admit that when I started making good money I was not giving to the church what i thought I should have given. Now, I want to give more and I can’t because of my health situation and the money I do get.

My question is like others above who have asked it, what are Christians to do when we want to purchase a house or a car, which we both know, a house costs upwards of $200,000.00 or a car that costs upwards of $25,000.00. So, we have no choice but to go into debt. We have to borrow that money, well, most of us.. How should we do this?

Thanks

Peace and Love

Dereck

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David Peach October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

Dereck, thank you for your questions. My parents are very much in the same situation with a fixed income that you are in. I understand the struggle.

I did not mention in the article about savings but I should have. I think most of us don’t see any way that we can save money with the debts that we already owe. However, if we could have something in the bank to help us in our later years, that would be great. A topic for another article.

I will let you look at my thought about buying a house in a comment I left above to Faffy.

Concerning a car, I think we spend money on cars and vehicles that we don’t need to. I am not saying you have to drive a clunker, but if you can’t afford a $25,000 car, then you should not buy one. A car is not an investment. They devalue too quickly. Certainly buying used is better than buying new. The depreciation on a new car is worse when the car is newer. The older a car is (within reason) the longer it will hold its value. This means that if you go into debt to buy a $3,500 car and have to sell it in 6 months or 2 years, you can probably get out of it what you still owe.

I understand people say they need to have a reliable car for work. But sometimes I think it is an excuse to buy a car they cannot afford. In the last 12 months I have driven 33,000 miles in my 14 year old car with my family. We have been in 21 different states for ministry purposes. Our car has its problems, but it is paid for. When I do need to drop $200 or $500 for repairs it hurts less when I consider that with a new car I would be spending that much money every month in a car payment and I still might have repairs to make. Unless you can pay cash (and not blink an eye at it) for a new car, you do not need one nor can afford one.

If you need a car and have to take out a loan for it, then buying an $8,000 car (or less if you can get by with one) will put you in less debt to the bank than a new $25,000 car.

And, if the worst comes to worst, a $100 bicycle will save you gas, a car payment and put you in the best shape of your life. There have been times when spending the $2 in gas to go back and forth to my office was too much to bear. My $35 pawn shop bicycle has gotten me to where I need to go.

I hope this helps you and many others.

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nobin October 18, 2012 at 1:55 am

hi david
thanks for giving wonderful advice in my life….

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Davida November 16, 2012 at 1:14 am

Great post. stArting with having the right perspective is ever so crucial, to understand than we are not owners but managers. That will go along way towards solving all the issues of mismanagement, that come further down the line.

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